Last Saturday, I joined a large group of bloggers from all over the country to attend what is now a regular event in my social calendar – the icelolly.com Blog at the Beach event.

No, it’s not at a beach. No, we don’t blog whilst we’re there. We basically gather at a destination, usually in Leeds and enjoy a day of networking, talks and lunch hosted by the fabulous icelolly team. In the past I’ve never really thought to blog about it, as the event is exclusively for bloggers.

But I don’t know, something kind of made me want to write about it this time around, but I’m not sure why…

 

Was it because of the talks?

This year we had talks from three bloggers: Bee, Kirsty and Kaye. To be honest, I didn’t know much about them. They were all great on stage: engaging, real and very honest about their advice on this crazy blogosphere we all find ourselves in. There were some inspirational quotes, some handy tips and a lot of valuable insight into how they have got themselves into the position they’re in today. There were lots of laughs too, Bee’s reaction to the mysterious missing letters in her presentation was particularly hilarious, she took the computer compatibility mishaps in her stride, it was fab.

Yes I enjoyed all three talks, but I don’t think this was my reason. I’ve heard many good talks here at Blog at the Beach in the past and I can’t think of any year that stands out as better than any others. Each one is different and special in it’s own way.

 

 

Maybe it was the company?

With the blogging community growing at mad speeds, every event these days is filled with new faces. But over the years there are a staple few who I’ve met and who I reconnect with on each visit. I was sad that I missed out on seeing the lovely Kirsten from Kookytraveller, but it was nice to catch up with Michaela, Ed and Dave in between talks.

 

Or perhaps it was because I come here often?

When I sat down and listened to Chief Marketing Officer, Ross, welcome us and Brand Director, Suniel, talk us briefly through where icelolly was at right now, I realised this was in fact my fourth time attending Blog at the Beach. It’s the only brand-hosted event that sits as a staple in my schedule. This was the first time I’d seen little kiddies at the event though and Ross’ fan club shouting his support at the end definitely brought a huge smile to my face, and to many others I’m sure! Was that cute show of support enough though…?

 

 

Freebies? Everyone loves a freebie…

Come on, who doesn’t? But there are no real freebies here. There’s a chance to win some great prizes, i.e city break and there were some stunning watches. But for us non-winners the freebie on offer is really their time and some grub. It was good grub though (that butternut squash bite was yuuuum, looked like an Indian sweet snack but it was savoury and delightful and if any food bloggers have a recipe for this please share it with me so I can make my sister cook it LOL)

 

 

 

Ok, yes there’s good food, but no that’s still not it.

I’ve been sat at my desk for the last hour racking my brain, going through every detail of the day and trying to figure out what little important detail I’ve missed…

I’ve got it.

Today, I attended a service to celebrate the life of truly inspirational man. It was a morning of sadness, tinged with a deep feeling of love, optimism and determination. As the list of accomplishments, both professional and personal flooded out, I was in awe of how this one wonderful human being had truly pushed to be the best he could be. And as I looked around at his friends and family, I realised that same character, that grit and personality was in it’s own way being passed down through the generations.

Yup thats it.

That’s why I had to write this post.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to learn over the last few years it’s that there are many different people in life. I’m not going to list them all, but I will tell you the type I have begun to surround myself with. I call them:

The Collaborators.

It’s not a new word, it’s not a sexy word either. But it’s a word that sums up this event and anyone who truly means something to me tends to fall under this title.

We don’t need to knock people down. We can compete, but don’t be afraid to lose, don’t be afraid to celebrate someone else’s win. There’s no need to be nasty. To bad mouth. To spread ill-feeling. If you have information that can help someone, why not help them!?!?

Kirsty, Bee and Kaye both got up on that stage today, probably gave away trade secrets as they passionately encouraged everyone to push their blogs to become successful. They were there to share their stories and to genuinely help others get themselves into a stronger position. I watched two bloggers who had only ever spoken online, meet, make friends and share valuable travel information needed for an upcoming trip one of them was taking next week. How amazing that we can do that?? Icelolly have created a meet up and networking opportunity that is exclusively tailored to bloggers.

 

Oh, now wait, I know what you’re thinking…

Clever, clever company, putting on a yearly social, calling bloggers to join them in celebrating what they do for some great exposure, channelling on our readership and audience. Well, if that’s their intention then first of all, they hide it quite well. But I assure you it’s not. Because if there’s one thing icelolly know how to do it’s collaborate.

Yes, they do get some decent reach, the #BlogAtTheBeach hashtag was trending quite nicely during the day, but hey what’s wrong with a little awareness? icelolly.com are a search comparison website, so they’re not directly selling a product. But yes, they’re trying to convince you to travel and who better to help them do that than travel bloggers? These guys know and understand that times are changing and that the voice of an honest person is better than that of a fancy brochure.

So, here they have mastered the title of ‘collaborator’ and created a day where bloggers and brand can meet, talk, brainstorm and idea-bounce, all to push each other and to help each other succeed. Using regular travellers to feedback on website user experience, on what works and what doesn’t, on what’s hot and what’s not. It’s a wonderful environment to be in.

And of course, the most important part of the day was that there’s always an element of TRAVEL talk. As a travel blogger that’s pretty important, especially as my travel game has been pretty poor over the last few months. Especially on here.

I’m pleased to say my first trip is BOOKED and I’m looking forward to another year of adventure – professionally in the day job and the blog job, and personally in the journeys I plan on undertaking.

I only hope that in years to come, when I am looking back on my achievements, they are half as good. That the people around me, are just as inspirational and that the words I’ve shared are half as meaningful as those of the magnificent man we celebrated today.

 

 

 

*** Thank you to the icelolly.com BlogAtTheBeach team for hosting another successful event. All pictures and opinions are mine and mine alone. And finally, I know a number of my dear friends and family are going through some tough times already this year, my prayers and love are always with you. ***

 

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On the lead up to Christmas things always get pretty hectic. Last year was no exception. On the Thursday night I had double booked, but as I had committed to the Blogger Dining Club first, I cancelled my other plans and stayed loyal to my virtual and not-so-virtual friends. I finished work, but had to run some last minute errands in town. Of course I had to do them on a day when it was chucking it down. And of course on the day it was chucking it down I had to forget my umbrella at home. And of course the one day I was going out for a fancy meal after work I forgot to pack some spare shoes to dress up my work clothes with.

So when the time came to join the group at Don Giovanni’s, I looked like an absolute mess. My hair, my bags, my coat… all were soaked and as I walked in to a restaurant filled with Christmas parties my heart sank at how unglamorous I was. All those times Mo has lectured me about making an effort to look half decent, well I really wish I had listened this one time. But I had nothing to worry about as I headed to where the others were waiting at the bar and Georgie, our chief hostess, swiftly took my bags and coat and ordered me a drink (non-alcoholic obvs) to relax, assuring me I looked fine (lies but I appreciated the gesture) and that now that I was here I should just relax and enjoy.

And that, is exactly what I did. There were familiar faces and lots of new ones too. Some full time bloggers, some part-time bloggers, Georgie had got together a pretty great mix of talent and after lots of talk on how crazy December had been we all headed to our specially decorated party table.

Georgie and the team at Don Giovanni’s had done an exceptional job of putting together a magical looking table for us to spend the evening at. The flower decorations by the Flower Lounge were gorgeous and gave our space such a cosy feel, everything from the place cards to the menus had been thought out and beautifully arranged. We had some lovely gifts on the table too, few boozey treats – not my cup of tea for obvious reasons, some honey water from Just Bee and a gorgeous gift box from Kiehls. I’m not a beauty blogger, but I am currently going through a skincare upheaval so it was very much welcomed and I’m currently putting them to the test…

 

 

My seat was right at the end, and I enjoyed the company of new friends that night Donna (I’ve actually met Donna before but it was nice to spend proper time together), Alice and Laura. After gushing over our gifts, crackers and getting the photographs done and dusted, it was time to sit back and do what we were here to do. Try out the food. Well that and make new friends, but I feel we’d already accomplished that part.

I had been excited about my meal for days and I was right to be. For starters I chose the JC Octopus – Ricotta mousse topped with grilled octopus, pickled radish, micro basil and slow roasted cherry tomatoes. For mains I couldn’t resist the Ravioli Aragosta – Homemade ravioli lobster in a lobster bisque with a touch of chilli.

 

 

The octopus was probably the best I’ve had in the UK, coming second to what Mo and I tried at Ocana in Barcelona. It wasn’t chewy in the slightest, perfect texture and I loved the sharpness of lemon with the cherry tomatoes and ricotta. The homemade ravioli was equally as good, the portion was quite generous though so I was struggling to get through. I’ve mentioned before that there is no shortage of Italian restaurants here in Manchester, Don Giovanni was one that had slipped off my radar, which is quite surprising as I don’t work too far from it. But the service was fab, the food was good and the atmosphere was cosy and intimate. I definitely want to take Mo back for him to try the octopus. Literally can’t wait to eat that again!

 

 

The evening ended with some festive tipples and Georgie, bless her, had made sure that the bar prepared an exciting non-alcoholic treat for me to enjoy. It’s things like this that really touch me, when people go out of their way to make sure you’re accommodated. One of the things about being in the UK, wow drinking is a really big deal here. But thankfully being a non-drinker is becoming just as popular these days, meaning people like me who remain alcohol-free can still go out and have a lovely evening with friends without feeling left out. And you know what bloggers are the best bunch, because we all have so much in common! We’re all some kind of super cool girl boss. We’re all practically running our own businesses and we’re all trying our best to balance life and make a difference.

2017 was the year I realised that no matter how well or how little I know my fellow bloggers, I do genuinely love being around them. They motivate and inspire me to push forward and hey, it might seem like all we do is take pictures and chat on social – well in actual fact the good thing about blogger events is we all know the drill and we can help each other get all the important stuff out the way so we can sit back and do exactly what we did that evening… just enjoy being together.

Can’t wait to see everyone again next month 🙂

 

 

*** Big thanks to Georgie for inviting me to the Blogger Dining Club and to her and Don Giovanni’s for organising such a wonderful evening. Of course all pictures are my own, apologies for them not being so great again, I was having a real battle with my own shadow that evening as it kept ruining my shots! ***

 

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There’s so much to do in Manchester these days. So many different experiences and fun outings for friends and families to enjoy. But did you know that Manchester is in fact home to the first IMAX Virtual Reality gaming centre in the whole of Europe. Not just the UK, but Europe!?!

Technology in gaming is advancing at a crazy rate, and VR centres are popping up all over the place. My sister and G recently went to a VR cinema when they were in Amsterdam and although it wasn’t as interactive as they expected, they enjoyed the experience.

After scoffing a home cooked meal, the four of us ventured over to the Trafford Centre to enjoy an evening exploring another world, another dimension in fact. I talk about and visit the Trafford Centre quite a bit, but that’s because they really do know how to have fun. Shopping is something I am not at all a fan of, but this isn’t just a centre to buy things, it’s a great place to be entertained. And now, up by the Odeon cinema, sits the brand new IMAX VR.

 

 

It might not look like much, looks like a pop up in fact, but there is no need for fancy frills when what you’re paying for is not real.

Think of this as a cross between a cinema and an arcade, where you are well and truly in the driving seat. There are currently 8 VR games on offer, across 10 pods. We didn’t try them all, but between us we tried enough to get a feel for the different scenarios. Adam walked us through and explained the game concepts and how they worked, the whole team there are great at gauging which games suit what you’re after. Some experiences are seated, some are standing and fully immersive.

 

 

After our grand tour and a quick watch of the safety video, it was time to get stuck in. Bit unsure myself, I decided the boys could be the first guinea pigs and we sent them on a space flight.

 

 

I knew VR would be an experience we would all enjoy, but I did not anticipate how enjoyable watching someone play VR would be. My sis and I were in hysterics as we watched the boys shoot off into space and explore the zero gravity world around them. It was laughs throughout actually, as even if one person is immersing themselves in a game, there are screens where you as a bystander can follow what they’re doing, while watching them act crazy in the real world. There were so many hilarious moments, I feel I need to apologise for the lack of decent imagery. I was swept up in wanting to go virtual I kind of ignored everything else. Luckily I recorded some video footage whilst we played, I look forward to sharing that later.

Between us, we tried the following:

 

Space Flight: Orbital Emergency

This is pretty much what it says on the tin. No real gaming involved here, this one is purely a VR experience, a great place to start if this is all new to you. Sit down, strap in and enjoy the trip away from Earth. You’ll love the view!

 

Justice League

Ever wanted to experience life as a superhero? well now you can. I took it upon myself to test out this mammoth responsibility. I started out as Wonder Woman, took me a few minutes to adjust but once I got my bearings those parademons didn’t stand a chance. I also tried to be Flash, but that didn’t go so well. You want a tip? Don’t skip the tutorial, it could be the difference between running like Flash or continually crashing into lorries and trains.

The boys tried life as Batman and Superman, there was a lot of competition in this part of the VR world… lets just say the topic of high scores caused some fun dramas 🙂

 

Star Wars: Droid repair bay

There you are far away in the galaxy. You are tasked with repairing Poe Damerons’s BB8 and his droid friends. Do I need to say more?

 

Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine

Ok if I told you spending time with BB8 and his pals was enough I was wrong. Because when you suit up and head over to Tatooine you get more. You get to feel the FORCE. Ok not the force, but it’s pretty close. Here you can fire up a light sabre and use it to defend yourself against storm troopers. Once again, do I need to say more?!?

 

 

Archangel

Want to shoot and experience life as a transformer? Well then this is a game to try. Four of you can play at once, you’re not all playing together but you can actually see each other within the game, it’s quite bizarre. This is a game that involves tactics, there’s a fair bit of shooting and some serious explosions. Amongst the group, it was one of the favourites.

 

Eagle Flight multiplayer

We ended with this game and what a game to end with! So the best thing about Eagle flight is all four of us could play together. Teams of two, against each other. It is pretty epic. I must admit I was pretty rubbish at it, I thought the game was like quidditch, but it’s actually probably more like capture the flag. You embody the form of an eagle soaring over the streets of Paris protecting your territory. I’ve mentioned many a time that I have an issue with flights, so this experience was absolutely liberating. It was bizarre being able to face my fears, knowing I still had my feet firmly on the ground.

We all thrived on this game, being able to see and compete against each other really took this whole VR evening to another level. We soared, we dived, we crashed… the flying was so realistic I actually left that evening with a bit of motion sickness. I need to point out – it was totally worth it.

 

So, the question is, is it worth it?

When I first looked at the pricing, pretty much paying a pound a minute for some games, I thought it seemed a bit steep. After experiencing it though, I wouldn’t think twice.

VR is becoming ever more popular these days, Samsung offer out headsets with their phones, consoles offer home kits and companies even use them as selling tools. But the quality varies substantially. There’s the kind of VR where you are stationery in a moment exploring a set, following a pattern or there are adventures like this IMAX VR where you are completely immersed within a fantasy.

 

 

Seven minutes does not sound like a long time at all, but the seven minutes of game time once I had embodied Wonder Woman, felt long enough for me to actually feel exhausted from a full combat experience. As Adam helped me kit up ready for the game the image of myself looking strange connected to a bunch of wires immediately vanished the moment I put on the head gear and a new world appeared around me. ALL around me. My brain actually adjusted to being in that game, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t envisage what I might look like from the outside.

There’s so much talk these days about not getting out enough, not enjoying the fresh air, kids being stuck inside glued to screens all day… hey I’m one hundred percent one of those people who don’t like to encourage too much screen time. But that doesn’t mean I’m totally against it, and that we still can’t enjoy entertainment such as this. In fact, after a robot inspired day at MOSI I remember reading an article by Marc Palaus, a neuroscientist at Spains Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, where he had investigated whether games changed the brain. Some of their research proved that video games actually contributed to the correct functioning of our brain and in some cases can even improve it.

So maybe it’s time we all get rid of our prejudices on video games and gamers and accept them for what they are: a truly great source of entertainment.

 

 

*** Huge thanks to IMAX VR at the Odeon and of course Adam, Cam, John and Connor for looking after us that evening. The passion and enthusiasm you showed really added to our experience and you can guarantee this won’t be the last you see of us, we’ve got some high scores to beat 😉 ***

 

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Over the last few weeks Mo and I have been taking it easy. I decided to switch off from my phone, get some distance from being constantly switched on, swapping small screen for the big screen and a bit of binge tv series watching (in between work of course). We watched a number of movies, one of the stand-outs being ‘Lion’, the Oscar nominated film based on the memoirs of Saroo Brierley.

If you’ve not seen the movie, it tells the tale of a five year old Indian boy who gets himself lost in Calcutta, thousands of miles away from his home after falling asleep on a train. After a series of potential life threatening events, he is adopted by an Australian couple and the second half of the movie addresses his plight to find his long lost family.

Watching the beginning is quite heart-wrenching, as it took us through the real life situations occurring every day on the streets of India. The dangers young innocent children face and the harsh reality of people being too busy to notice, or in this instance, care that a young child is fending for himself. The credits point out that nearly 80,000 children go missing in India every year, of course the reality is it’s probably far more as I’m sure many cases are undocumented.

 

 

Why am I telling you all this? There are so many great movies out at the minute (and by that I mean Star Wars of course) so why has this one become so etched in my mind…

I started a new job this year and I love it. It was made for me! And I can finally spend my working days using the creative side of my brain that has been bubbling away in the hope of one day being unleashed at full steam. I have my blog to thank for this shift in daily life too. If it wasn’t for the skills, the knowledge and the experience I have gained through writing and working on this online journal, I would not be in the position I am today.

Writing on here has never been an issue in the past I’ve always made the time, found the words shared the photos. But there have just been far too many instances in the last year where I’ve almost rejected putting up a blog because it’s felt, dare I say it, unnecessary. I travelled to Myanmar at the start of 2017 and it was a truly memorable experience.

I came back hopeful about their future (politically), knowing it wouldn’t change overnight but that in time the persecutions happening unnecessarily would be addressed and stopped… only to find that I was wrong and the situation for the Rohingya became much worse. Crushing any sense of hope I had for the country and stopping me from sharing the rest of my journey as the last thing I wanted was to inspire people to travel, and fuel money into the pockets of a country who’s government is quite simply, allowing a genocide.

It’s so hard to know what’s right and wrong anymore? Like the rich, high flying war lords on the planet of Canto Bight supplying weapons to both the First Order and the Resistance (yes, I’m talking Star Wars), how are we supposed to distinguish the good from the bad if they both use the same middle-man? How can I travel to America when there is a racist in charge? How can I comfortably visit countries in the Middle East when they are partnered with said American racist? How can we comfortably visit Eastern Europe when late last year there was the largest ever march of far right nationals in Poland?

2017 was definitely the year I accepted the world had well and truly gone mad. Sky News used one my images (well Mo’s image) on their news report a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t even enjoy seeing it on the front page because it sat right next to reports of protests and attacks in Palestine after the ridiculous US declaration about Jerusalem. I then realised that because of my new job and leaving behind the world of travel alerts, I was starting to lose awareness of world issues, I had become too busy to read what was happening away from the safety of my little bubble.

I was struggling with the writing because I was scared of putting something together that is somehow supporting a bad cause. A bad situation. Or even worse, neglecting an important situation for the sake of not wanting to write something bad or for my own personal gain… (can you tell I’m an over-thinker?)

Ok now what has all this got to do with my movie review?

The most beautiful component of ‘Lion,’ the part that really inspired me, was that it was the story of Saroo’s journey. His journey through life and the different stages that he went through. I loved that this movie, based on his book, told his story and he was able to trace back his steps through the memories and the feelings of his every day travels as a child.

And just like that, all the words started to float around. I spent the last week just going back and reading my own blog. I know damn well it’s not at all a sophisticated piece of literature but I love that it tells my story. I love that I have a place to share my journey. The good things, the bad things, whether I’m right or wrong, all of the pieces I share are my tales and experiences.

 

 

I recently found all my families old passports, my Dad’s in particular, pages and pages filled with stamps and dates and as I went through them with my parents they spoke of their travel memories… some of which I remember, some I have absolutely no recollection of, or they never shared up until now. Travel is like nothing else, it gives us these moments to share and it teaches us far more than we can ever learn staying put doing the same thing over and over again.

 

 

Now that we’re here on the first day of 2018 I have no real resolutions except to keep pushing myself and to not be scared to present my stories on here. For Mo and I to keep aiming for the top and more importantly, to encourage others to do the same. I pray that 2018 is a better year for some of our friends and family who have struggled through hard times. And I look forward to making much more use of my voice and not shying away from contributing my opinions.

 

 

Hope you had a good Christmas and enjoyed the celebrations last night and wishing you heaps of good luck and fortune for the year ahead…

Happy New Year 🙂

 

 

 

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Christmas is well and truly in full swing here in Manchester, as I’m sure it is all over the UK. I’m not Christian, so it’s not an occasion I celebrate, but in the past I’ve spoken about how much I enjoy this time of year. For me it’s not about the excitement of receiving presents, not about advent calendars (although the hotel chocolat one at work has significantly contributed to this years excitement somewhat) and it’s not about the tremendous amount of food we all seem to consume.

I just love the atmosphere. I love the spirit of goodwill, because it sure is fruitful once December comes around… I only wish it would stay this way all year. It’s nice to see the season of giving stirs up charitable feelings in almost everyone.

Yes this is a travel and food blog, but as I’ve said many a time… it’s also my talk-about-what-ever-I-want blog and I love taking time every so often to talk about charity.

This year, I moved offices into the city centre and my lovely building had set itself up as a Mission Christmas drop off point. I had heard lots of things about this project, but didn’t really know too much about it, apart from the fact that it was huge on the radio and that it distributed toys.

 

 

I’ve never really told people about this, but as it illustrates a point I’d like to make, I thought it was worth sharing. I volunteer with a homeless project in Manchester, the Greater Manchester Winter Night Shelter (GMWNS), it’s a project I was introduced to by my sister and one I’ve stayed involved with for the last two years. It only runs over the winter months, October to April, and it’s aim is to provide temporary accommodation to a number of gentlemen who are working alongside the Booth Centre (another great charity) to get themselves off the street and into a home. Working alongside the volunteers and guests here have taught me some of my most valuable life lessons.

The most important one of the lot – you should never assume you know what people need. I repeat NEVER assume.

I used to be the type of person that expected charities to concentrate on life’s essential items: food, water, clothing etc. But I’ve learnt that it is not for me to say what is or isn’t an essential item. And that, is one of the most valuable lessons I think I’ve ever taken on board. It made me re-evaluate even how I looked at my own life. How I used the word, and how I shopped for my own essentials and luxuries.

I think pre-GMWNS I always wondered why Mission Christmas spent all their time and money collecting toys and not things like school uniforms, healthy foods, books… but I now understand that this isn’t about just improving the ‘physical’ wellbeing of children, it’s about one simple thing and one simple thing only: Happiness.

Happiness is a wonderful thing and we all strive for it, no? It doesn’t matter how much, how little or how mediocre your life is, if you can have moments of happiness it will carry you through.

That’s what both of these wonderful charities represent to me. Groups of people, working together to bring just a little bit of brightness back into peoples lives.

The headline sponsor of Mission Christmas, Bathroom takeaway, invited myself and a few other bloggers to visit Mission HQ and see exactly what the project was all about yesterday. A short walk from Piccadilly, few extra gifts in hand I was excited to catch up with some familiar faces and see the charity work for myself. Walking in it’s quite breath-taking just how vast the space is and how slick the whole operation runs.

There are drop off points all over the city, but they all end up here at this central location. Bathroom takeaway last year donated their own warehouse over the December period to store and organise the gifts, however with the sheer scale of what was coming in, this year the MD of the company found and secured this warehouse solely for the Mission Christmas project. Every day employees from the company and teams of volunteers roll in early morning and keep things running smoothly as drop offs are made and toys are collected. This year they had over 68000 applications for disadvantaged kids from all over the UK whose parents didn’t want them to wake up to no toys this Christmas.

 

 

I said it earlier, I don’t believe in Christmas, but as I sipped on my morning brew in that freezing cold warehouse chatting to the team, Lizzy from key103 said something that caught my attention:

“families believe in the magic and we need to keep that alive.”

Yes, yes we do. Whether I believe in Christmas or not is irrelevant. This was all about making someone else’s dream come true, even if it was just for the one day. And that right there is why this project is so great.

I’m probably sharing information you already know, as I felt like the last person to jump on this bandwagon of love for Mission Christmas, I mean they had a lot of support during the morning we were there, a huge donation was announced, guests such as Chief constable Ian Hopkins, Andy Burnham, Masterchef winner Simon Wood and Man City Female football stars all appeared as the final push for donations was broadcast live on Key103 right there in the warehouse.

 

 

Having seen Mission Christmas in action was definitely a privilege, huge thank you to Bathroom takeaway for showing us the ropes and extending their hospitality yesterday. I’m glad I was able to support a great charity. I urge you to check them out – see if you can help – you can read more on their website.

But more importantly, I urge you to not just use this joyous of year to donate your money or ‘things’ – find a moment to donate your time. I often stress the importance in recognising the humanity within a situation, it’s going to sound a little crass but throwing money at a charitable situation, although it will help, I’m not in any way saying it won’t – but you won’t understand the struggle, you won’t truly understand the situation.

It’s easy for us to feel pity, to feel bad, to walk past a homeless person in the street and feel guilty. But what you’ll find is all of these people, the humans asking for our help, we could be any one of them. Volunteering will remind you of that. Remind you that we are not invincible and remind you that sometimes we can’t control when circumstances change.

Volunteer your time. Offer your upbeat personality, your hand of friendship, your skills, your ridiculous jokes, your humanity and ability to connect with someone else and let them know they are not alone.

The funny thing is the whole time I’ve been volunteering for GMWNS, I’ve actually felt like the one who’s benefitted. I have met some of the most amazing and inspirational people through the project, people who have made me push harder and be better than I can be and these people weren’t even volunteers, they were the guests themselves. Although the volunteers I’ve met thus far have been pretty fab too, if you are interested in helping out I urge you to pick up the phone and give project leader Craig a call, he’s BRILLIANT (and they are still looking for volunteers!).

 

Image taken from: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/480829697700871222/

 

 

For information on the two charities I’ve mentioned above:

Mission Christmas, Cash for Kids

Greater Manchester Winter Night Shelter, part of Greater Together Manchester – I mentioned above they are still in need of helpers, so please do check them out, give it a go 🙂 

 

 

 

*** Thank you to Bathroom Takeaway for inviting us to experience what goes on at Mission HQ and of course, and big love to all the people out there who volunteer and go the extra mile to help others. You know the drill, all opinions on here are mine and mine alone HOWEVER in this post, some of the images are by Bathroom Takeaway, not all are mine 🙂 ***

 

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